After several weeks of rumors and waiting, Real Salt Lake fans can finally breathe a little easier. The captain Kyle Beckerman is returning to Sandy.
On Tuesday, Real Salt Lake announced that the nine-time MLS All-Star and 11-year member of the Claret and Cobalt will return for his 12th season and beyond. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Beckerman mentioned he’ll be here for “a couple more years.”
In an interview with RSL play-by-play man Brian Dunseth, Beckerman said, “This is home. It’s where we wanted to be. What we built in the second half of the season was so exciting to be a part of. To be able to be here for a couple more years and build with these young guys — they are going to be another year older and a little bit more experienced – there is a lot of upside for this team. To be here and be a part of it is exciting.”
In a club-issued press release, head coach Mike Petke expressed his excitement for Kyle’s return and expressed how important his leadership is for a young team.
“I cannot imagine an RSL team next year without Kyle here. Without Kyle with the armband on. Without Kyle leading the charge,” Petke said. “I think that he is iconic here in Salt Lake, and that he is one of the best players in the history of this league. And I think he deserves and will earn anything that he gets. There will be a statue here of Kyle one day. It’s a no-brainer that Kyle is back; we couldn’t do this without him.”
One of the three holdovers from the 2009 MLS Cup winning team and MLS’s all-time leader in games played for a field player (non-goalkeeper), Beckerman is synonymous with soccer in Utah. He played a major role on the team last season, specifically down the stretch, when RSL nearly made the playoffs on the last day of the season.
Despite being 35 years old and having played 17 seasons thus far, Kyle can still contribute in the coming seasons on the field and it has to be a major benefit for the young players on the roster to have a veteran mentor like him. RSL has some high expectations heading into 2018, and Beckerman can help contribute to getting Real back into the playoffs.
One day, Kyle will hang up the cleats and as an avid RSL fan, I honestly hope that day never comes. He is not only an RSL legend, but one of the greatest players in MLS history who also had a good run with the USMNT. I do know that when he does retire, I’ll be excited to see what kind of tribute RSL can put together for the long time captain, and maybe by then his well-known dreadlocks will have made a return.